Cheaper 3D technology could come to smartphone cameras

According to Digital trends, researchers at Stanford University are working on a system that could lead to big improvements for smartphone cameras. With the changes, image sensors will be able to measure the distance between objects using light, which will and will enable 3D imaging on smartphones. This would require the use of lidar which stands for “light detection and ranging”.

Cheaper version of lidar may help Stanford’s 3D imaging system become available on more smartphones

Lidar fires laser light and times how long it takes to bounce off a subject and back to the phone. It can be used to measure how fast an object is moving, how far away it is, whether it is moving closer or further away, and whether it will pass another object. Lidar is already used on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max to improve focus in low light and for night mode.

The version of lidar used by Stanford is cheaper than that used by Apple which could make it possible to use this system on a greater number of handsets. Stanford is looking to create a megapixel resolution lidar which is not currently available. The greater resolution would allow the lidar to identify targets at a greater distance. Okan Atalar, a graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford University, wrote an article describing the system.
Atalar says, “Existing 3D cameras need specialized pixels, which are difficult to achieve in large formats and have smaller fill factors due to the complex electronics required to capture 3D in pixels. Our approach converts standard and highly advanced 2D sensors into 3D sensors as opposed to building them from scratch. Lidar can help determine the depth of a photo. Combined with several images taken by a camera filming around a subject from several angles, a 3D model can be created.
Uplift Labs analyzes 3D images to improve athlete form and technique. Its CEO, Sukemasa Kabayama, says the cameras he uses aren’t specifically 3D cameras. Still, he notes that “smartphone cameras have the power to capture valuable data and produce 3D visualizations using video and other applications.” Sports is one of the areas where 3D imaging and analysis could be huge for smartphones.

Kabayama added that “Whether you’re a CrossFit junkie, weekend golfer, or Peloton enthusiast, the risk of physical injury is present and for many, a constant battle. Professional athletes have access to 3D technology that serves as a way to minimize performance-related injuries, but most of us everyday athletes don’t.”

Everyday athletes could have access to the same injury reduction insights as pros if bringing 3D capabilities to smartphones lowers the cost of using 3D technology. “With most injuries from overuse, poor form or other poor body mechanics, 3D imaging can make identifying areas for improvement – whether it’s form or parts of the body to be strengthened – a transparent task”, continues Kabayama.

3D capabilities on smartphone cameras will also improve security

Another leader of a 3D company is Hans Hansen, the CEO of Brand 3D. Hansen states that “With 3D cameras, you would be able to capture scenes and objects that people could experience remotely as if they were physically in the room. This would be revolutionary for remote working, learning and social distancing during pandemics, as well as to diagnose, treat and repair functions in healthcare, technology and manufacturing.”

3D on smartphone cameras could also be a big plus for security. After all, Apple’s True Depth camera makes Face ID more secure than regular face detection due to its 3D mapping. New 3D cameras coming to market should be able to collect even more in-depth information when scanning a user’s face, making facial recognition systems more secure.

Collecting more in-depth information helps get more data about your face to your phone. This should reduce the number of times facial recognition fails to recognize your face and also protects you from attackers trying to break into your handset.

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